November 10th, 2011
08:11 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The spectre of a two-tiered Europe has once again muscled its way center stage, as rumblings grow around the discrepancies between the strong and the weak economies struggling to co-exist on the continent.

Suggestions the eurozone is diverging into two groups is hardly controversial: One only has to look the economic performances of its 17 countries during the last 18 months.

Clearly some economies are thriving under the common currency, while others have collapsed. Greece can’t pay its bills and is surviving on the funds of Europe’s bailout pot and the International Monetary Fund. Portugal and Ireland are, of course, in the same club.
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November 10th, 2011
07:45 PM GMT
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London (CNN) - He's been dubbed 'super Mario' but the man at the helm of the European Central Bank might as well be 'superman' such is the monumental responsibility that rests on his shoulders - a responsibility that doesn’t really fall into his job remit either.

As Italy successfully braved the bond markets this week with a €5 billion sale, traders say the country had much to thank Mario Draghi, its former central bank chief, for.

At 6.08%, the Italian Treasury had to offer a whopping 2.51% more than when it last sold bonds on October 11. Having said that, Italian 10-year bond yields traded lower than their recent euro-era highs. That means Italy is out of the panic zone for now at least.

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November 10th, 2011
04:39 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Europe’s internet economy is growing, but the continent lags far behind Silicon Valley’s high tech community in the U.S.

And while there are plans are afoot to level the playing field, Europe might want to be careful what it wishes for. Growing this sector may be painful.

Europe has pockets of highly-skilled and innovative brains in various cities around Europe: Silicon Docks in Dublin, Silicon Sentier in Paris, corners of Vienna and East London. But it takes more than bits of modern architecture and a few flat-screens to create the business environment for big-scale, global, web-based success.
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November 10th, 2011
06:40 AM GMT
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(CNN) – With the flood of woeful financial news coming out of Greece and Italy, it’s easy to forget something Goldman Sach’s Jim O’Neill is quick to point out – the world doesn’t depend on Greece and Italy.

“This year the increase in China’s GDP will be the equivalent of creating three new Greek economies.  The increase in the BRIC countries GDP’s –that’s China along Russia Brazil and India – will be close to the equivalent of creating another Italy,” said O’Neill, who coined the term BRIC to refer to the developing economic titans of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“So yes, we’ve got enormous problems in the core of the developed world, but that isn’t the modern global economy.   The world will probably grow by close to 4% next year despite the fact that the euro might be in recession.”
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November 10th, 2011
05:20 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Duty-free shopping onboard may no longer be limited to watches and perfume.  Ryanair is considering offering in-flight pornography to its passengers, according to a report on Tuesday in The Sun.

The racy content would be broadcast through a custom Ryanair app for smartphones and tablets.  Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Dublin-based discount airline, told the Sun, “Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn’t we?”  He said that pornography would be available only via the relative privacy of mobile devices and would not be shown on seat-back television screens.

This isn’t the first time O’Leary has displayed a “sex sells” ethos for his airline.  In 2008, he made flippant comments to the media about offering “beds and b***jobs” in business class.  The airline has also published an annual “Girls of Ryanair” calendar since the same year, featuring its female flight attendants in bikinis.
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November 10th, 2011
03:14 AM GMT
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Editor's note: CNN anchor Nina dos Santos spent four years in Italy as a correspondent and covered Silvio Berlusconi’s re-election in 2008.

(CNN) – As world leaders battled to stave off another recession, Silvio Berlusconi spent much of the summit season eyeing the contours of his female counterparts.

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was the latest to suffer the ignominy of being ogled by the Italian Premier at the G20 in Cannes, while cameras caught Berlusconi leering at Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Brussels.

Berlusconi clearly has a head for figures. Unfortunately he has been focussing on the wrong kind for too long – much to the detriment of his long-suffering electorate.
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